According to a 2017 article, “Acute otitis media [middle ear infection] affects over 80% of children before their third birthday, and 30 to 45% of these children have suffered two or more episodes.” The reason why middle ear infections are so common among young children is because the passageways between their middle ears and the back of their throats (Eustachian tubes) are much shorter and more horizontal than adults’. Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce your child’s risk of an ear infection, which we review below.
According to the Boston Medical Center, vaccinations can help prevent the conditions that lead to ear infections, which is why it’s important to vaccinate your child on the schedule recommended by their pediatrician.
If you can breastfeed, this is another great way to help prevent ear infections in babies. Breast milk contains antibodies that can protect your baby against illnesses that lead to ear infections. Experts recommend trying to breastfeed your baby until they are at least six months old.
Bottle Feed at an Upright Angle
If breastfeeding doesn’t work for you and your baby, you can also help prevent ear infections by bottle feeding at an upright angle so their head is higher than their stomach. This can help prevent fluids, including formula, from flowing into the middle ear. Note that you should never use a pillow to prop up the bottle or let your baby take their bottle to bed.
Stop Pacifier Use Between Six and 12 Months of Age
Because the sucking motion can inhibit proper Eustachian tube function, research has noted that extended pacifier use can lead to more frequent ear infections. Though it is useful to soothe your young infant, we recommend stopping pacifier use between six and 12 months.
Wash Their Hands Often
One of the best ways to stop the spread of germs that can lead to ear infections is to wash your hands and your baby’s hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating food, after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose and after playing at City Centre Park in Saint Peters.
Because exposure to tobacco smoke, even secondhand, raises the risk of ear infections, if you smoke, you should quit. For more information about preventing ear infections or to schedule an appointment with an expert ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician, call Midwest ENT Centre today.